Monday, July 08, 2019

Bits and Bobs in No Order

Bob 1:  Currently getting ready for a two-week trip to Colorado and Wyoming. Hubby bid on a fly fishing day at a charitable auction and "won." My family lives in Colorado, so we will be spending some good family time.

Bit 1:  Was that not the best Women's World Cup series ever?  Even the losing teams played really well and 5 foot 11 inches Sara van Veenendaal was marvelous.  

Bob 2:  Taking my second all-day meadow field trip tomorrow.  So looking forward to the heat, humidity, and ticks.  Photos to follow in the distant future.

Bit 2:  Binge watching he seven seasons of The Closer while paying bills and folding laundry.  Had forgotten how much I enjoyed it years ago.

Bob 3:  Still working on learning my camera.  It is a challenge, but I keep telling myself that I am supposed to be encouraging challenges at my age.  (Newer photos on my other Blog.)

Bit 3:  I have lost most of my parsley and since we seem to have kept the rabbit outside the fence, thus, this has to be an opossum?  Did you know that its ancestors go back 65 million years?

Bob 4:  Upon our return from big sky country, we have two days of company, and after that, we have a dog visiting for two weeks.

Bit 4:  Hubby is in fine health once again!  We both hope we can endure the higher altitudes while trying to keep up with my slightly younger brother who is a runner and his wife who is a water aerobics instructor!

Wishing you balance in your life as the summer moves upon us like a wet blanket.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Do You Think It is Old Age?

Hubby got a funny little cough about 12 days ago. It was infrequent and dry, but unusual for him. We had spent days in the week prior with the public interacting at a Master Gardener's booth ...

... and then the week before that we were with the Grands canoeing and spelunking and "cabining" in the Shenandoah valley. 

We even squeezed in one small hike.  No one was sick on the trip and some of us had lots more energy than others at the end of the day. 

Anyway, his cough did morph into a cold which put him in bed for 6 days. A mild fever on one of the days came and went pretty fast. He started to get up and about this past weekend, cough still hits him once or twice a day and he is slowly building up his stamina. I think as we age, if we spend days in bed, we weaken dramatically.

Actually, I was going to write something about aging and illnesses and after I looked at all the pictures above, I think we did darn good!  Getting ready for some hiking in Colorado next!  (I really have to pace myself...don't let the photos above fool you.)

Friday, June 28, 2019

Some Eye Candy

Getting camera peripherals organized...ha ha.
I had my small point and shoot Canon at the recent mud-bath event - another time another story - and an elderly gentleman (probably my age) came up with his Canon DSLR model and looked at me and asked what I was shooting with and we discussed briefly photography and cameras. He admitted, and I have NEVER had a man photographer admit this to me, that he usually shoots in Auto mode with his big fancy camera! I explained that with my point and shoot I do not have to worry about too many settings, but my Canon DSLR is usually in Aperture mode. I have gotten comfortably used to that. I admit that I rarely use about 75% of the camera's marvelous settings.

Due to an upcoming trip this fall I have decided to buy a "bridge" camera which means you get the advantage of a DSLR without the weight of too many lenses.  I now have that new camera with its attached lens and it is a different brand from my Canon and absolutely a complete difficult change for an old lady like me. 
(If you are totally uninterested in photography you can scroll to the bottom for your reward for my sitting in the heat and humidity in the mornings and trying to figure out why this does not focus easily!  It is one of the stupid 100 settings, I know.)   

The photographers' group online recommended that I download the 400-page guide from some guru. The brand is a Sony and most of the professional photographers in the group have told me it is a devil of a camera to learn.  I downloaded some guide...not sure it is the one they recommended but am having a heck of a time getting the focus I want. For those of you who know anything about cameras and want to drool the non-removable lens is a 24mm-600mm. Takes a lot of battery power to drive this.

I have also set it to silent mode, which means if I am not careful, and I do try to be careful, and shooting in sports mode and failing to turn it back I get 25 shots of the same thing! When you do not hear the clicking noise, it is both a pro and a con.

It does weight slightly less than my Canon and they say it is super weather sealed.  Anyway, I have a steep learning curve ahead before my October trip and already my computer is getting too full of images.  Now the next step is to buy more memory?  I deleted almost 1,000 digital images today and I stopped shooting in RAW/JPEG and just shoot in RAW.  

OK, now for the reward of some eye candy;  my yard is brimming with butterflies!


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Chasing Our Tails or the Human Tinkering Issue

I wrote recently about a "meadow" trip that I took. Meadows are now the new thing to promote among environmentalists. 

First, what is a meadow? According to Merriam-Webster, the word's origins are: "Middle English medwe, medowe "grassland kept for hay, pasture field," going back to Old English mǣdwe, ... going back to West Germanic *mēdwō- (whence also Old Frisian mēde "pasture, meadow," Middle Dutch māde, mēde), "": most simply a flat land covered in grass.  Some definitions include hay or alfalfa, but I am talking about fallow or unused lands.

Let us use a definition by some Sierra Nevada scientists (my favorite group of people):    

A meadow is an ecosystem type composed of one or more plant communities dominated by herbaceous species.
It supports plants that use surface water and/or shallow ground water (generally at depths of less than one meter).
Woody vegetation, like trees or shrubs, may occur and be dense but not dominant.

Yes, a meadow can be for animals to graze or it can be fallow and maybe mowed once or twice a year to keep down fire threats to nearby communities or private lands.  A meadow can also be a wetland community edging other bodies of water.

We have lost many wild meadows because of our changes to this land.

A more bucolic image comes to mind for most of us with flowers and flying insects allowing romantic long walks with vast views.  

But let me tell you about the reality of  "managed meadows" first and then we can discuss the issues later. 

Why? Why does mankind want to restore meadows to certain areas? If you asked my husband he would say it is for the quail. He misses the song of the quail. Not good enough? Well, meadows can store rainfall and release it over time to other areas, protecting against erosion.  Meadows maintain groundwater storage which is a precious resource that is disappearing in many areas.  Meadows are sponges that filter out pollutants as well.  Meadows are also homes for rich biological diversity including many endangered insect and plant species.  

We toured this meadow in early spring before its beauty could surprise us.

It involved about 80 acres that are managed by a consortium of government and college agencies.  It is a study that has been conducted over a number of years.  It seems to involve a lot of work.

Routine plowing of the soil to disturb some plants and to provide habitat for ground birds and to break up dense clumps of grasses that small birds cannot walk through.

Routine burning of sections of the land in fall to minimize invasives, monoculture, etc.  We also visited the Longwood Gardens meadow below.

The above sign was at the Longwood Gardens meadow for education to the public.

Above is, perhaps, an invasive version of Helianthus (related to the sunflower) that they are letting go over a substantial area...perhaps for the beauty of watching the goldfinch in fall?

Large paths are cleared for scientists and students to work, machinery to move and visitors to walk.

Longwood created birdhouses for some of their insect eaters.

Well, that is enough for now.  Maybe next will be a post of my view of the pros and cons.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

You Can Always Talk About the Weather

The seasons are big shifting as the first day of summer comes to my area with its predictable heat and humidity.  Greenland and the arctic are loosing permafrost (as was predicted but not for decades) and Colorado just got two feet of snow at the 7,000 foot level, which is also unusual. My yard is working its way to a hellish summer, but surprisingly the June weather is perfect this week.  Yes, weather anomalies are normal while not predictable.  It is not the incident which we must accept but the trend for more frequent anomalies and anomalies of greater proportion.  Whole communities are burned to ash or drowned in rising waters.    Entire agricultural communities have been destroyed in drought and flood.   

I have accepted that mankind is changing the world dramatically in many ways (not just the weather/climate) and I accept that we can destroy this planet so easily in both little and big ways and that we are basically too naive or distracted to realize our power.  If you are a believer in a higher power, you may assume that there is a benign force that will pull us away from the cliff at the last minute while introducing a lesson in sin.  Perhaps you assume that the higher power is not benign and just an entity with an intellectual curiosity about the evolution of all the living things he/she has installed on this blue planet and watches with fascination as we destroy  ourselves.

I do not know.  I do  know  we ignore at our own peril.

I will not argue with you on the whys of this danger, because beliefs are not weak opinions open to easy change, and I do not like argument.  These are life-long postulations hung on the hook of certainty and security, and I am not able to reach that high and unhook them and then catch you as you fall..  I will discuss with you about mankind's ability to influence this planet, though.

I do believe finally in good and evil, but evil is hidden in camouflage and beauty and good is shrouded in sweaty work and sacrifice.  

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Free Days

This past week was a late return from our Father's Day weekend, going through the mail and checking on food and doing about 4 loads of laundry as we had hiked and river canoed. Yes, boring and trite stuff that we all do and which seems to take more time than it deserves. Then there is the yard and garden to revisit. 

Also on the schedule was a Wednesday evening meeting where hubby was giving a Powerpoint slide on the artificial creation of meadows. It is a new trend primarily to return fallow farmland to the meadow bird species. It sounds interesting but is a real effort because on the East Coast meadows most naturally return to woodlands. Maybe I will write a post on the work if readers are really interested. This meeting was supposed to be followed on Thursday by a visit from acquaintances up north who wanted a fishing adventure to celebrate a birthday and then the day after their departure a visit from son and daughter-in-law. My mind was going in circles trying to get a clean and well-stocked house before they arrived. Make sure bedding was all clean, rooms dusted, and lo and behold, they both canceled at the last minute!

It was a feeling like going 90 miles per hour while reading the Google maps very carefully and then finding you had come to a dead end/full stop at the edge of a forest!  Or like walking a tightrope and finding the floor was only a few feet below.

I usually love free time but must admit that I was pretty disoriented until this afternoon.  I have been given a four-day weekend with no plans.  Actually, I still feel a little lost...

Friday, June 14, 2019

Those Crazy Weekends with Young Adults

My daughter has generously planned a Father's Day weekend for my husband. He loves fishing and canoeing. So that is part of the trip. The cabin has a hot tub which daughter and her hubby and grands swimsuits are needed. I am deciding what type of camera gear to bring. Also with my husband's tick issue, I am packing tick repellent, tweezers, and alcohol. I am packing a small first aid kit even though I think my daughter has one.

The weather is going to cooperate, so little in rain gear is needed.

I have packed water shoes and hiking shoes because...who knows?

Daughter asked for 6 camp chairs, 6 beach towels, and with sunscreen all goes into a large bag.

Hubby is trying hard to keep his fishing gear to a decent size.

Anyway, my point is that even though we are leaving today and coming back midday Sunday (48 hours), we have TON of stuff.  Definitely a first world get-away problem.